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Cuba releases American Alan Gross in prisoner swap – CNN

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Editor’s note: Read a version of this story in Spanish. Washington (CNN) — U.S. contractor Alan Gross, held by the Cuban government since 2009, was freed Wednesday as part of a landmark deal with Cuba that paves the way for a major overhaul in U.S. policy toward the island, senior administration officials tell CNN. President Obama is expected to announce Gross’ release at noon. Gross’ “humanitarian” release by Cuba was…

Anger and grief as Pakistan buries students massacred at school – Reuters

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – A shocked Pakistan on Wednesday began burying 132 students killed in a grisly attack on their school by Taliban militants that has heaped pressure on the government to do more to tackle the insurgency. People across the country lit candles and staged vigils as parents bade final farewells to their children during mass funerals in and around Peshawar, the volatile city on the edge of Pakistan’s…

Obamas on Race: We’ve Been Treated Like the Help – ABC News

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

President and Michelle Obama personally identify with everyday experiences of racial bias in America that have underpinned recent protests across the country, they told People magazine in an interview to be released Friday. “Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs,” Michelle Obama told the magazine. On one occasion, she said, her husband “was wearing a…

Sony Scraps NY Premiere of N. Korea Comedy – Voice of America

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The New York premiere of a film about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been canceled following threats by a shadowy hacker group. The so-called Guardians of Peace on Tuesday released a statement promising a “bitter fate” to those who see “The Interview,” which is set to be released nationwide on Christmas Day. In broken English, the brief statement…

Russian Government Tries to Support Volatile Ruble – New York Times

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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Senate gives final OK to extend tax breaks – Philly.com

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

WASHINGTON – The Senate passed a $42 billion package of tax incentives, reviving dozens of lapsed breaks for 2014 and setting them to expire in two weeks. After the 76-16 vote, the bill was sent to President Obama, who signed it Tuesday night. The House passed the measure Dec. 3 on a 378-46 vote. Congress will have the “dubious distinction” of starting next year with all…

Death toll reaches 141 in massacre at Pakistan school – USA TODAY

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

More than 100 people were killed, mostly children, by Taliban gunmen in an attack on a military school in Peshawar, Pakistan. VPC A Pakistani girl, who was injured in a Taliban attack in a school, is rushed to a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Dec. 16.(Photo: Mohammad Sajjad, AP) LAHORE, Pakistan – Taliban gunman stormed a military-run school in Peshawar on Tuesday and massacred 141 people, nearly all children, an…

Jeb Bush’s presidential run exploration reassures supporters – New York Daily News

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images Jeb Bush is finding out his moderate ideas about immigration or his approach to education will turn voters off. The motto might as well be “crush the crazies.” By exploring a presidential run early, Jeb Bush means to lock-up early support of a much-maligned Republican establishment that flexed its muscles in upending the Tea Party this year. It includes Wall Street heavy-hitters…

What we know about the Sony hack – Telegraph.co.uk

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Five days later, on November 29, the hackers began wreaking havoc, releasing the scripts of five Hollywood films, including Annie. Fury starring Brad Pitt, which was already out in cinemas, was illegally downloaded more than one million times. Then they started leaking confidential company documents – everything from private correspondence between staff to data on employee salaries. The information had all been password-protected, and whoever was behind the hack gave…

Federal judge: Obama immigration actions ‘unconstitutional’ – Fox News

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A federal judge has declared parts of President Obama’s immigration executive actions unconstitutional, in the first court opinion to tackle Obama’s controversial policy changes. In an opinion filed Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Schwab, in Pennsylvania, said Obama’s immigration actions are invalid and effectively count as “legislation” from the Executive Branch.   ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT “President Obama’s unilateral legislative action violates the separation of powers provided for in the United…

Fox News Poll: Romney, Clinton lead potential 2016 presidential pack – Fox News

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This composite image shows Mitt Romney, left, and Hillary Clinton, right. (Reuters/AP) Former Massachusetts Gov. and 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney leads the growing pack for the GOP presidential nomination, while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remains far ahead among Democrats. That’s according to a Fox News poll released Tuesday. ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT Click here for the poll results. Romney dominates the field for the 2016 Republican nomination. He comes…

Funerals Begin for 141 Slain in Taliban Attack on Pakistan School – Voice of America

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The first funerals are being held for the victims of a Taliban school massacre in Pakistan on Tuesday that left at least 141 people dead, most of them young students. Wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives, seven assailants attacked the military-run facility in the northwestern city of Peshawar, shooting children and adults. Pakistani officials said 132 of the dead were students about 12 to…

Biden Marks Start of Hanukkah at National Menorah – ABC News

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The smell of latkes ? fresh potato pancakes ? wafted over the National Mall on Tuesday as Vice President Joe Biden marked the first night of Hanukkah. On the Ellipse outside the White House, Biden passed a torch to a rabbi who was then lifted high into the air as he lit the national menorah, as a trio of cantors sang traditional Hanukkah songs. Biden told the crowd gathered that…

Before Sony hacking, Seth Rogen was sure North Korea threat was bogus – Los Angeles Times

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014

In an interview with The Times just days before a devastating cyberattack on Sony Pictures came to light, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, co-directors of the upcoming comedy “The Interview,” seemed fairly cavalier about the possibility that North Korea could take serious action in response to the film. Blustering official protests from the regime in Pyongyang, sure – those were a predictable response to a movie centered on a plot…

‘Oh God, it’s Mom’: Political brothers hear from mother live on C-SPAN – Today.com

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014

parents 1 hour ago When political pundits Brad and Dallas Woodhouse appeared on C-SPAN Tuesday morning to discuss bipartisanship and the political divide in the U.S. with host Steven Scully, the brothers say they had no idea that they’d be receiving an on-air phone call from their mother. “You’re right I’m from down south — and I’m your…

Taliban slaughter at least 141, mostly children, in Pakistan school – CNN

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — “‘God is great,’” the Taliban militants exclaimed, as they roared through the hallways of a Peshawar, Pakistan, school. Then, 14-year-old student Ahmed Faraz recalled, one of them changed the narrative. ” ‘A lot of the children are under the benches,’ ” a Pakistani Taliban member said, according to Ahmed. ” ‘Kill them.’ “ By the time the hours-long siege at Army Public School and Degree College…

Pennsylvania town tense as police hunt alleged killer – CNN

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014

(CNN) — Dread and uncertainty hung over Montgomery County, north of Philadelphia, as authorities hunted Tuesday for a former Marine reservist suspected of killing his ex-wife and five former in-laws. Schools closed and families huddled behind locked doors, not knowing if shooting suspect Bradley William Stone of Pennsburg was still in the area. Flanked by authorities from local, state and federal agencies including the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and…

What to look for in Jeb Bush’s 250000 emails – CBS News

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Jeb Bush has now announced that he is forming a political action committee and is going to explore a run for the presidency. This is big news because Bush can command attention, particularly of those who are interested in writing checks to presidential candidates. That means, at the very least, if you are one of the candidates still seriously thinking about running for president, you have to let those who…

Victims of Sydney siege: A mother of three and a beloved son – CNN

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014

(CNN) — Katrina Dawson was having a Monday morning coffee with a colleague at the cafe down the street from their law firm’s office when the nightmare began. The 38-year-old mother of three was among 17 people taken hostage by a gun-wielding man with extremist Muslim views who seized control of the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in the heart of Sydney’s central business district. The siege last around 16 hours before…

Mom Calls C-SPAN To Scold Pundit Sons On Live TV – Huffington Post

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014

We’ve all been embarrassed by our mothers at one time or another. But chances are our moms never called in to scold us on live national television. During a C-SPAN debate Tuesday centered on whether or not bipartisanship is good for governing the country, Dallas and Brad Woodhouse — brothers and “political operatives who work on opposite sides of the aisle” — received a call from “somebody down south” in…